“Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

I started blogging about my cancer journey about two years ago. I was so proud of my blog and would pour so much love, transparency, and vulnerability into each post. I wanted to give whoever was reading a truly authentic snapshot of what life is like when you are healing your body naturally. I was delighted when positive feedback and encouraging comments would come in, and this fueled me to spend more and more time crafting my online sanctuary. But then, as if the universe knew my ego needed to be balanced out, I received a flood of criticism.

I wrote guest post for a popular, albeit conservative, website and had no idea what I was subjecting my story to. When the post went live, I expected the usual positive and supportive feedback to appear in the comments. But it didn’t show. Instead, came a constant stream of horrible name-calling, condemnation, and death threats. Yes, death threats.

I was shattered, and for about two days, I was obsessed with refreshing that page to see what else was being said about me. But then it hit me: it was naïve of me to expect any reaction other than the one I was given. My story is controversial, and I am sharing it to challenge the way people think about dated ideas of cancer and healing. This reaction is exactly what I deserved, and it was not necessarily a bad thing.

Being dealt such a bitter blow became my motivation to educate myself even more on my topic and spread my message even wider. My haters became my motivators. I decided right then and there that I could either stop blogging and keep my story to myself or I could grow an extra layer of thick skin and stay strong in my message. I chose the latter.

The criticism hasn’t stopped. In fact, it has gotten much more frequent. However, these days, I don’t dwell on it. I understand it. Criticism has a purpose: it’s always going to be there, and it’s just up to me how I choose to deal with it. We don’t have control over the things people say about us, but we do have control over how we decide to internalize it.

Now, whenever I hear or read critical comments, the first thing I do is fan my defenses. Before that initial “how dare they” reaction bubbles up into something I can’t take back, I take a deep breath and tell myself that it is totally okay for whoever it is to have an opinion that is different to mine. We are all at different places on different journeys, and it would be arrogant of me to think that my opinion is right and theirs is wrong. Mine may be what is right for me based on everything I’ve learned and experienced up until now, but there’s nothing to say it won’t change in the future. And if I were in their shoes, coming from a place of differing knowledge and experiences, I would probably have a very different view of the situation. There is no right or wrong, there are only more points of view to consider, and they all deserve respect.

I love the saying, “When you stick your head above the crowd, someone is bound to throw a tomato at it.”

As long as you truly believe in what you stand for and you are moving your message forward from a place of love, criticism can actually be seen as a good thing. If you’re receiving criticism, it generally means that you are doing something that challenges the way the status quo thinks. If no one ever did that, we would still believe that the world is flat and women would still be in the kitchen. If you are receiving criticism, congratulate yourself for being part of the change you want to see in the world.

My Five Tips for Dealing with Criticism

1. Drop your defenses. Realize that it’s okay for people to have their opinions. Silence your ego and see that criticism is simply information.

2. Scan the criticism for truth. Even if it’s just a glimmer, that new perspective may be what you need to take your journey, message, or work in a more enlightened direction.

3. Practice self-love every day. When you develop a true sense of love and respect for yourself, you will have more power to stand up for your message. What other people think of you will have little to no impact on the way you view yourself.

4. Understand that everything has a purpose. People and events come into our lives to teach us something, so look for the lesson in the criticism.

5. Let it go. Take a deep breath in and thank the universe for sending you whatever it was that you needed to learn at this time. Then slowly breathe out and release all attachment to the criticism.

How do you handle criticism? What tips can you offer? Do you have a hard time hearing not-so-flattering remarks?

Jesscia Ainscough is a writer, health coach, cancer kickin’ Wellness Warrior, and very proud pug owner. As the creator of The Wellness Warrior, Jess writes daily articles on courage, kindness, and self-respect, as well as practical how-tos for shopping, cooking, juicing, and nourishing your body. Get an empowering reminder that your health is worth fighting for and explore Jess’ revolutionary guide to mind-body reinvention, The Wellness Warrior Lifestyle Transformation Guide. You can also follow Jess on Twitter and Facebook.

*Photo by jontintinjordan.